so far…

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We had a great visit with our friends, S and T, last night.  We sat around a bonfire in our garden and chatted about all sorts of things from movies, the Olympics, diets, stuff and more stuff.  One of the things that came up briefly was my 40 Challenge (as it has become known as).  We got to talking about #25 – Catch 40 Crab.

Here’s the thing- I don’t think this one is going to work out.  I just can’t make it work, mainly b/c we need a boat – or someone with a boat.  I also need someone to teach me the ins and outs of crabbing.  The season is short and quickly approaching its end, and I’m coming to terms that it most likely isn’t going to happen.

But that is OK – and that’s what S and I were discussing.  In fact, she complimented me on the fact that it was a good thing that I’m not so hung up on the event or the numbers of each of the challenges.

 

 

 

I’m currently reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  This book is a year-long account of how Rubin wanted to find ways to be happy.  She wasn’t unhappy and she had a great life and she admits that.  In fact, many reviews I’ve read of her book talk about how spoiled she is, great life, great career, great family, and so on…”yet, she’s not happy.”  I don’t agree with these sentiments.

Rubin goes through the year and tries one thing a month to help her become more of aware of herself and her quest to be happy.  She does things like cleans her closet to reduce clutter, starts a collection, makes three new friends and other things too. ( I personally wish she did a little more things that were charitable, but hey- it’s her story, not mine.)  She admits not all the things she is doing are easy and some are out of comfort zone, but some of the things she is trying are working – and she feels happier.

I think it is important to realize that she wasn’t unhappy – but her journey is more about finding ways to be more aware of her surroundings, to appreciate the things she has.

I can totally relate to Rubin’s plight, and this is why I did my challenge.  I am not unhappy in my life, I have a very good life.  I admit it and I try to treasure it everyday.  But at times, I do feel I was/am caught up in the everyday ho-hum of stuff – cleaning, fixing lunches, getting out the door, going to work, coming home to do it all over again – – and I don’t want to miss any opportunity to really live.  I want to challenge myself to live life to its fullest, to live up to my potential.

And you know what – – I’ve learned somethings about myself because of this challenge.

So far I’ve….

  • read more books, watched more movies, gone to church more than I have in years combined.
  • tried a few new foods and a few new recipes that I wouldn’t have normally even considered.  (Buddha’s hand – in the past, I probably wouldn’t even had noticed it in the produce department.)
  • run more than I have in years – – I mean, I’ve run 35K!!!!  (five – 5K’s so far).
  • noticed more sunrises and sunsets…like this morning, as I’m writing this, the sun has been rising, I’ve watch the outside get brighter.
  • learned that star chart (of sorts) really keeps me on track with my progress and I like seeing the squares on my list get filled in…I feel accomplished.
  • committed to doing some sort of challenge in the future – maybe not 40 things of 40 things – – but some sort of something to keep me on my toes.

I think originally, I was hoping that this Challenge was going to provide me with the Meaning of Life.  And maybe in a sense it has reminded me that the meaning of life isn’t about one monumental AH-HA moment, but all the little moments in between.  Not one thing on this list is going to change my life in one instant and give me all the answers.  I’m realistic enough to admit that there’s nothing really that earth shattering about planting 40 pumpkins….but b/c of this list – – I do feel I’m living more; I’m having more fun, I am more aware of my surroundings, my family, the choices I make.  I’m trying more….

 

That’s all, enough with all the deep, soul searching stuff – – – – back to The List.

 

Today- we’re taking (my award-winning, I might add) ribs to a new friend’s house.  My husband, T, asked that I make some to share with his co-worker as part of his daughter’s first birthday celebration.  I’m counting that as an Act of Kindness.  I think I’ll wear a dress too!

 

Happy Saturday!

~Amy

 

 

 

kindness act and two projects

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Yesterday afternoon, my neighbor called in a semi-desperate state.  She was calling for a referral for a babysitter.  She wasn’t having an emergency, it’s just August and her kids are bored and driving her crazy.  She is pretty new to the neighborhood, only having been in the area since the spring, so she is still building her network of babysitters, car mechanics, etc.

I like her a lot and we’ve become friends in the short time since they’ve lived here, so it was easy for me to offer to watch her kids while she and her husband took in a movie.  Well – it wasn’t my first thought, it wasn’t until I told her that all four of my regular babysitters are out-of-town (three are sisters and they are on a family vacation).

I’m so glad she took me up on my offer, b/c although I didn’t get done what I had planned (the plan was to sort through the boys’ toys in the playroom), I did get another project done I’ve been wanting to tackle.  I like when other kids come over (usually) b/c it gives me a bit of a break too, in that I don’t have to entertain mine.  (That sounds bad, I hope you know what I mean.)

But in addition to just giving my new friend a much-needed break from her kids – which I totally get – we got to talking about trading babysitting so we can go out on a regular basis.  I hope it works out – maybe once a month or so, it would be nice to catch a movie or dinner with my husband, T.

My project that I’ve been wanting to work on is framing and hanging a stamp collection I have started.  A few years ago I started collecting sheets of stamps with the anticipation of hanging them and using them as art in my office.  I love stamps, they are so telling of our current events and I think this collection over the years will tell a fun tale.

Here are some pics of that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition, I’d been wanting to hang some photos of the boys on the family wall.  I got that accomplished last night too.

 

 

 

It was a great night.  I felt good for watching my friend’s kids and got two projects done off my list.

Hey  – here’s a question for you.  Do you collect anything?

 

 

Happy Thursday!

~Amy

The Jungle and Belong to Me….

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I just finished listening to The Jungle on audiobook.

WOW – what a story.

The story takes place in the early 1900’s in Chicago’s “Packing Town”.  It tells the story of Jurgis, a Lithuanian immigrant who has recently come to America with his young bride and family in hopes of finding a new world full of opportunity.  It sadly never works out for Jurgis or his family and they are faced with poverty, sickness, death.

The story goes into much detail about the scene of the meat-packing companies and was hard to listen to many times.  In addition, the ongoing struggles of Jurgis and his family is almost unbearable to realize that people went through this everyday and I’m sure there are people going through it today.

I didn’t much care for the rant on Socialism at the end, although interesting to learn Upton Sinclair’s take on the idea, the rant itself took the book off on a tangent and left the story unfinished.  I almost feel he wanted to present this horrific story of Jurgis and his struggles as a means to lead up to his dissertation on Socialism.

I think this is a must read for anyone.  It is an eye-opener for how our meat is handled as well as a reminder as to why people immigrate to America and how we should be welcoming instead of taking advantage of these people.  It is a tough read, but I’m glad I read it.

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A couple of months ago and before I started The Jungle, I listened to Belong to Me by Marisa De Lo Santos.

Overall, I felt it was a good story.  It held my attention.  I did feel it fizzled out towards the end however.  Worth the read…but I wouldn’t give it as a gift.

I guess it didn’t leave too much of an impression with me, as I’m uninspired to share my take on it.  Again, it was a fine book, but one that won’t be leaving any lasting impression on me.

Do you like audiobooks?  What are you listening to right now?  I am just starting Watership Down.  I’ve always wanted to read this book and have attempted a couple of times.

Happy Wednesday!

~Amy

grey is not my color….

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OK – I’ve tried.  I mean I’ve really tried.  But I just can’t do it – I’ve got to put down the Grey Series and call it good.  I’m about half way through the final book and it is turned into a chore to try to finish them.  Enough!  I’m done.

 

Here’s the thing...I HATE THESE BOOKS!!!!  I hate the characters. I have no respect for them.  I hate the story. I hate that it takes place in Seattle and is so lame at its attempt to use a few Seattle landmarks to tell the tale.  Please don’t associate the great city of Seattle with these books.

There! I said it.  I have no idea what the draw is to these books and the characters.  Here’s what I think:

If I had a daughter – I would not let her read these books.  More so than Sense and Sensibility. But for very different reasons.  

The “relationship” and I use the term lightly, between Ana and Christian is not based on mutual love and respect.  Instead it is based jealousy, obsession and controlling.  I’m not sure “I got in trouble” and “you defied me” are words that either party in a relationship should ever use.  Yet that is the theme of the book.  Christian wants to control Ana in every aspect (even to the point that he wont let her drive or learn to ski b/c she might get hurt – come on – it is 2012 – have you heard of equal rights bub?), Ana rebels, Christian gets mad and sticks it to her (literally).   It is gross.  It isn’t healthy, nor is it anything I ever want in my relationships -even the fantasy ones.

Here’s what I don’t get – why is this such a draw to so many women.  I admit, I was curious to read the books – to see what all the hype was about.  And at half way through the final book, I’m still hoping I’ll discover it.  I mean, don’t get me wrong – sure the sex is steamy and different from things I normally read.  Maybe I was hoping it might spark a little something to help my husband, T, and I to have “more time with my husband” if you know what I mean. (see #18).   Sadly – Christian uses sexes as a tool; for revenge, for punishment and as a reward and it was so disturbing when you realize why he’s having sex with Ana each time- that it took all the fun out of reading erotica.  And quite honestly, there is so much sex – it is almost unbelievable.  I mean, come on….no one has that much sex.  And Ana is a virgin in the book and yet she has an orgasm every.single.time – – COME ON!  This is a fantasy for sure.  Quite honestly, there ended up being so much sex and it gets to be so disturbing (and boring too) to read that after a while – I just skimmed over those parts.

I have two friends on Facebook who LOVED this book.  “couldn’t put it down” both of them said in their statuses.  One read the whole series over the course of a weekend (she is 25) and the other read it over the course of a couple of weeks (she is my mom’s age).  They loved Christian and his character, felt sorry for him and were attracted to him.  Sorry – ladies – but YUCK!!!  And both of these ladies are well-educated, strong women.  I don’t get it.

My cousin, S,  made a comment to me about “why do I read it if I don’t find it enjoyable?”

Great question.

I guess my “read 40 books” as part of this challenge is b/c I’ve gotten out of the habit of reading in the last ten years or so.  About twelve years ago or so – my commute to work was almost two hours one way.  I was reading about a book a week. I enjoyed it.  But when I quit that job and things changed, eventually my family grew and more things changed, I fell out of the habit of reading.  Sadly, these days, I tend to start many books but if they don’t capture me immediately, I put it down.  I wanted to challenge myself to finish books I’ve started and to discover reading again.  In actuality, I’ve finished  more books this year than I’ve finished in the last five years combined.  But maybe S is right – if it is a drudgery to get through….   put it down.  There are many other books out there worth reading.  So I’m taking her advice…and kicking “Mr. Grey” to the curb.

Did you read the Grey series?  What are your thoughts?

~Amy

meditating..

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A couple of months ago, I was coming on a huge deadline for work.  I am the chairperson for the annual dinner/auction for a little animal rescue non-profit for which I work.  I’ve been working on this auction for the last five years.  The week leading up to the auction is always the craziest – lots of last-minute details and changes that need tending.  No matter how much I prepare, there is no escaping the last few days and all its craziness.

This year, my husband, T. was on travel.  So — not only was I entering an overly hectic week, but I was on my own for childcare and house-stuff.

I posted on my Facebook status that week “my MO for the week…one Rosary a night“.

And I did – I said one Rosary each night.

And it helped.

I’m coming to realize the power of meditation.  And I’m starting to crave it.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote my mid-year status report.  Looking at my mid-year status, I realized I needed to make some changes to the original List.  One of these changes was to number thirteen.

 

Originally, number thirteen was “Plant 40 trees”.  I guess originally, I envisioned myself working along the side of a mountain planting seedlings in a recently logged area.  (I tend to dream big).  Then I thought, I’d buy little seedlings and give them to friends.  I thought this would be a good Arbor Day or Earth Day project.

Well – I missed my opportunity and both days came and went.  But moreover – I changed my mind.  I live in an area where there are a lot of trees.  And while I believe we can never have enough fresh oxygen – I’m not sure planting 40 trees would have really done much  nor am I sure 40 friends would need trees.  Or realistically  – would four friends need ten trees?

I’m not giving up on my dream of planting seedlings along the side of a mountain though.  I’m going to look into that.

 

 

 

 

 

So I changed number thirteen to “mediate for ten minutes for 40 days”.

I started last week.

I made a change to my thinking that  meditation has to be done first thing in the morning or the last thing before I go to sleep.  And while I see the benefits of both these times – I am performing my meditation after lunch when I am sitting down to work.   I work at all hours – but I tend to do the bulk of my work between the hours of 1pm and 5pm.

So many times my head is spinning as I sit down to tackle my job. Sometimes, my heart is even racing from anxiety as to what to start on first.   I have many simultaneous projects going at one time.  I have emails to answer.  Phone calls to return.  Fires to put out and plates to spin.  I enjoy my job and I find it challenging and (usually) rewarding. My job is not overly stressful, it has its challenges and frustrations, but what it comes down to – and  I’m sure I’m not unlike everyone else out there – I’ve just got a lot to do.

And I need to get my head around it.

So – I’m giving myself ten minutes before I dive in to calm my mind and get focused.

I found an APP on my iPad and it walks you through a gentle mediation.  It is called Simply Being.  I recommend it.

For the record – I’m not sitting on the floor dressed in white, fingers posed.  For my afternoon meditations, I’ve been sitting on my front porch, listening to the lady guide my thoughts and feeling the breeze on my face.  It is quite calming.

I’m not sure this will be a 40 day consecutive thing – mainly because my weekends are so different from my weekdays.  But after three days of doing mediatin….I do think this will become an integral part of my routine from now on – 40 of 40 Challenge or not.  I can see the benefits both mentally and physically.

It is helping.  It is calming.   Rosary or Simply Being.  Meditation is here to stay.

 

Happy Day!

~Amy

PS – When and how do you mediate?

 

Movie Reviews…20 stars total!

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“Lucy…I’ve got some catching up to do….”

Here are a few movie reviews of movies I’ve seen recently.

 

OK – not at all what I expected.  But I still loved it.  So much so, that we ended up buying the movie.

Here’s what caught me off guard, I cried throughout the whole thing.  My husband, T, kept staring at me and asking me “what is wrong”.

Here’s the story; Matt Damon (yum), is a recent widow, and the father of two kids.  He is really struggling to make it work with his kids and maintain some sense of normalcy now that his wife is gone.  He is really missing her.  He can’t concentrate on work, is fighting with his teenage son and his young daughter is picking up the slack on the domestic duties.

He decides he needs to change things up, moves out of the city and purchases  a piece of property that happens to have a run down and almost shutdown zoo on it.  He knows nothing about animals or running a zoo, it almost breaks him both in spirit and in money.

It does have a storybook ending; all works out, the community pulls behind him, he passes his inspections and he falls for the head zookeeper.  Love this movie.  Will be watching it again for sure…with a box of tissues next to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had never heard of this movie, nor seen any previews for it.  One of Little T’s friend’s dad recommended it to us to watch.  We rented and then bought it and gave it as a gift to my sister for her birthday.  It’s that good!

LOVED IT!!!  What a beautiful story of a father’s love (Martin Sheen) of a son he doesn’t understand, yet so desperately wants to.  It is the story of a seemingly happy man, professional, knows all the answers, who finds his world thrown upside down as he makes a journey to learn what life is all about…soemthing his young, carefree son, who didn’t play by the rules had already figured out.

Another one to watch over and over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want funny and love…this one is for you!  I feel like I’m one of those teenage girls who loves every movie she’s ever seen.  Well – here we go again, I loved this one.  But unlike the first two, this one is laugh out loud funny.  And who doesn’t love Reece Witherspoon?

Two hot guys, spies, fall for the same girl.  Using their spy techniques to spy on each other while she knows nothing about it.  Fun, fun, fun!

Who is with me to watch this one again?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOVED IT!!!  Loved the action, loved the story, loved the fact that the hero is a girl.  LOVED IT!!!  Took the boys to see it, they loved it too.

Can’t wait for it to come out on DVD….guess what – we’ll be buying this one for our collection!

A must see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve got four more reviews to share.  Stay tuned….

What movies have you watched lately?

~Amy

mid year status check…

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Happy July!  WOW – July.  When I look at my list I think – – WOW – I’ve done some stuff and still have lots of stuff to do.  I’m plugging along nicely on most things; others – well…..  Here is a snapshot of how it looks on July 6th!

  1.  Lose 40 pound – – I’m working on this everyday – – three down – 37 to go.
  2. Read (finish) 40 books  – – Untitled, Sense and Sensibility, The Grapes of Wrath, The Hunger Games, 50 Shades of Grey, You Belong to Me, The Einstein Syndrome,  – – looks to be about seven so far.  
  3.  Watch 40 movies that I’ve never seen – Being Elmo, 500 Days of Summer, Moneyball, Contagion, The Lorax, I Am, We Bought a Zoo, Country Strong, The Way, This Means War, Brave – right at eleven. 
  4. 40 Random acts of kindness – Looks to be about five
  5.  Reduce debt, increase savings or increase income by 40% – –working on this everyday, will be determined closer to the end of the year. 
  6. Make 40 pillowcases for the women’s shelter.  – this is in the works – I have at least 34 pillowcases ready to sew.  I’m planning on a work party to get this done one weekend soon.
  7. Do 40 Push-ups – thanks to my Insanity workouts a few times a week – this is looking like a real possibility.  
  8. Send 40 Birthday cards to family and friends – I’m at about an eighth of the way there – – going strong. 
  9. Go to Church 40 Sundays  –twelve Sundays of prayer – – 28 to go (I hope there are that many left in the year…I might have to find a mid-week service or two.)
  10. Brush dogs 40 times – after the last few weeks – we’re at about half way here – – they’ve been shedding something fierce! 
  11. Finish 40 uncompleted projects – four down – –lots in progress!  
  12.  Donate 40 bags of food to the food banks. – I’ve been to the food bank at least ten times this year!  
  13. Plant 40 trees –  – I’m changing this to #13 – Mediate for ten minutes for 40 days. 
  14. 40 books to library and/or school – Changing this one too – no soda for 40 days. I started yesterday.  
  15. Plant 40 sunflowers – I’ve planted over 150 seeds – – now I’m sitting and waiting.  
  16.  Try 40 new recipes – Only six?  Feels like more.  Need to try more new stuff! 
  17. Try 40 new foods – Only Seven?  Feels like more too….off to the store I go!  
  18. Do 40 things with just my husband – just a couple…that is why this is on this list
  19.  Take 40 balloons to old people – Making a change to this one – plant 40 daffodil or tulip bulbs along the side of the road – this will happen in the fall. 
  20.  Hand out 40 daffodils on the first day of spring – Done!  
  21.  Plant 40 pumpkins – planted and waiting….
  22.  Grow a 40 pound pumpkin – panted and hoping
  23. Donate $40 a month to a charity – Done!
  24.  Drink 40 ounces of water a day – I’m actually doing really well on this one.  It’s a daily thing. 
  25. Catch and cook 40 crab – –crab season just opened.  Working on this one currently. 
  26.  Be outside for 40 minutes a day – This has been a hit a miss – – hence it is on the list and will stay on the list!  
  27. Spend 40 minutes of uninterrupted time with my sons each day – Most days yes – some days – no.  
  28.  Write 40 haiku  – not as easy as I thought….working on it.  
  29. Run 40k…eight 5K’s. – I’ve run FIVE!  Just did one on the 4th of July.  
  30. Do 40 things that are unexpected or silly. – I’d say at about ten. Here’s one of them. 
  31. Give 40 flags away on 4th of July. – DONE! 
  32.  Make 40 loaves of bread. – One more change – – #32  = send my family newsletter to 40 servicemen and women for Christmas.
  33. Say the Rosary 40 times – I’m at about one/fifth of the way through on this one.  
  34. Watch 40 sunrises and 40 sunsets – –I’m right at half.  It’s really hard right now with our super early mornings and late nights though.  
  35. No eating out for 40 consecutive days – I’m changing this to no fast food for 40 days.  We’ve done it for forty dinners, next is none at all for forty days.  We start July 8th!   
  36. Call my sister 40 times – About a quarter of the way on this one.  
  37. Organize a garden plant swap with 40 friends – planning this for the fall. 
  38. Wear a dress/skirt 40 times – this one has been fun – another tenner – – planning on wearing one tonight.  
  39. Memorize all 40 (OK 44) US Presidents in order – working on this one daily, might recruit Little T too.  
  40. Save 40 rolls of quarters. Then celebrate with the money! – I’ve got eight rolls saved so far!  
I’m not as far along on something as I’d like, but I’m further along on some than I expected.  I’ve got half the year to go and one thing this challenge is teaching me – – it is a marathon.  I try to think about it everyday and try to stay focused on my goals.
As I’m writing this update, I’ve also been noting all the blogs I owe everyone.  I’ll get working on that right away.  In these, I’ll explain why I’m changing some of the original ideas.  I’ll also catch up on my book and movie reviews!
Stay tuned…hope your mid-year is where you want to be!
~Amy